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Sophia Ran, Ph.D., in her lab

September 18, 2008

Special to the American Cancer Society's Celebration of Life

          As part of its development, the SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute (SCCI) at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield has successfully recruited new research faculty members to join current faculty and bolster the amount of cancer research being done locally.  The SIU researchers are studying a variety of cancers and concentrating on translational research which can be moved more quickly from the research laboratory to the patient’s bedside.
          Currently, SIU has more than $2 million for breast cancer research alone.  One of the researchers speaks to part of the motivation of many of SIU’s faculty.  In acknowledging his research grants, Daotai Nie, Ph.D., said, “It’s the thousands of individuals with breast cancer that motivate researchers like me to study this cancer so that one day it may become a highly curable disease.”
          Here are some examples of cancer research related to breast cancer, which may lead to the development of new therapies, that are currently underway at SIU School of Medicine --

  • Daotai Nie, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology and a member of the SCCI research team, is the principal investigator for three breast cancer studies.  A three-year grant from the U.S. Army will examine if the movement of breast cancer cells to other parts of the body can be blocked.  The budget is $433,409.  A two-year grant from the National Cancer Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, will examine the Pregnane X receptor and its resistance to drugs used in cancer treatment.  The budget is $218,250.  A one-year grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health will study cell mobility in tumor invasion and metastasis.  The budget is $100,000.
  • Yin-Yuan Mo, Ph.D., associate professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology and a member of the SCCI research team, is the principal investigator for two studies examining microRNA molecules and their role in breast cancer.  A one-year grant from the U.S. Army is to identify microRNA target genes in breast cancer.  The budget is $108,375.  A one-year grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health will study RNA molecules and their role in tumor formation and progression in breast cancer.  The budget is $125,000.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Peralta, associate professor of surgery, has a two-year grant to study an estrogen receptor, GPR30, which is believed to stimulate cancer cell growth and make tumors more resistant to chemotherapy.  The receptor has been found in young women and blacks who have a type of breast cancer that is difficult to treat.  The budget is $38,500.
  • Dr. Laura Q. Rogers, associate professor of internal medicine, is the principal investigator of a two-year grant from SCCI, which supports her on-going research on how exercise changes the markers of inflammation, the level of fatigue and sleep patterns in breast cancer patients.  The total budget is $50,000.  She also has a two-year grant from Memorial Medical Center to study exercise behavior and attitudes among breast cancer survivors for $23,384.
  • Sophia Ran, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology and member of the SCCI research team, is the principal investigator for the projects for two grants.  A two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute will test whether a specific antibody can be used to suppress the spread of cancer from lymph nodes to other parts of the body.  The budget is $216,750.  She also has a two-year grant from the William E. McElroy Charitable Foundation to study ways to control the spread of cancer in animal models by preventing the formation of lymphatic vessels in tumors.  The budget is $50,000.
  • Rita Trammell, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology and internal medicine, received a two-year grant from the William E. McElroy Charitable Foundation to study how breast cancer and chemotherapy influence sleep and fatigue in a mice model with breast cancer.  The budget is $50,000.
  • Kounosuke Watabe, Ph.D., professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology and member of the SCCI research team, is the principal investigator for a three-year grant from the U.S. Army.  The study is looking at the gene that blocks the spread of breast cancer tumor cells in the body and how they spread from the primary tumor to distant organs. The budget is $425,887.
  • Richard Woo, Ph.D., assistant professor of surgery, has received a one-year grant from the U.S. Army to study the effects of obesity and breast cancer.  The budget is $108,375.
  • Eiji Furuta, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow, has received a three-year grant from the Susan B. Komen Foundation to study how an edible plant that grows in Asia, Cacalia delphiniifolia, can be used to target the fatty acid synthase gene and stop the growth of cancer tumors.  The budget is $177,975.  Furuta is studying with Watabe.
  • Michael Flister, a graduate assistant, received a predoctoral fellowship from the U.S. Army.  The study will look at which specific inflammatory proteins are responsible for spreading tumor lymphatic vessels in breast cancer metastasis.  The budget is $76,136.  Flister works in Ran’s laboratory. 

          The SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute is focusing SIU’s efforts in cancer research, physician and public education, and treatment for patients from across central and southern Illinois.  The SCCI mission is to serve the people of central and southern Illinois by addressing their present and future cancer care needs through medical education, biomedical research and patient service.  Its Web site is www.siumed.edu/cancer and its main phone number is 217-545-6000.

 

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